My Predictions for 2014

surface24Happy New year! On the eve of annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), here are my predctions for this year 2014.

PC market is not dead, it is just been festering. With over 50% sales in corporate environment, and because of the recession for last 5 years since 2008, many corporations have been holding off on making new purchases but they have to get off of Windows XP. As a result PC sales will rise but a new form factor will emerge. Its really going to be a hybrid design. You can call it a tablet with a detachable keyboard or notebook with a detachable screen. Its not a new form factor. Just look at Surface tablet lineup from Microsoft. Desktops will also transform into large screens with all components built into screen. Look at iMac for design clues.

Gesture input will become more popular. For example: Surface has a hands-free mode that lets users wave their presumably wet or filthy hands in front of the Surface 2’s camera to turn pages in a virtual recipe book. According to Bing’s website, the air gestures can be used to flip between instructional steps of a recipe.

Hands-Free was designed specifically for use while cooking because it allows you to view Bing Food and Drink app recipes in an easy-to-read format. Hands-Free allows you to look through recipes without touching the screen by waving your hand in front of the camera (perfect for messy hands). Samsung Galaxy S phone and Tabs have their own air guestures too.

Wave your hand in front of your camera in order to advance forwards or backwards. This lets you browse the ingredients and recipes Hands-Free, and step-by-step without dirtying your screen.

Speech control has been around for a while and does work. In fact,  Windows speech recognition can control all mouse and keyboard interactions and application software. I predict that people will increasingly use a standard headset with built-in mic remote to execute voice commands on their devices.

edward-snowden1Awareness of computer privacy will rise. With Edward Snowden named Person of the Year by so many leading publications including Washington Post, New Yorker Magazine, USA Today, Truthout, Guardian and Runner-Up for TIME’s Person of the Year, protection against US government intrusion will become part of mainstream computer and IT security framework.

Broadcast, media, cable, and technology powers-that-be have waged an all-out war for control of the living room, leaving consumers as collateral damage so far because no one player in the market has been able to conquer the living room as of yet. Nobody has been able to make a seamless integration of this fragmented mess so far. But as trend toward computer miniturization gets stronger, people will start using plug computers in home as application servers to control media in the home. The first applications will be Network Attached Storage (NAS) and media servers (HTPC) which can integrate together disparate elements of an entertainment systems into a seamless package. All media will be stored on NAS. Playback and control of media will be done using HTPC. Success of Raspberry PI and Intel’s Next Unit of Computing platform will give rise to smaller and low power single board computer designs also called nettops or plug computers, for use as servers in the home.

Smartphone or tablet will be used as a remote control device for both HTPC and NAS. Samsung phones and tablets already have built-in infrared port for use as a remote control. If developed properly it will give products like Logitech Harmony Remote lineup a run for its money.

The ability to purchase content such as books, movies, music, software will diminish. It will be sold under a subscription rather than under a purchase-to-own model. Use of physical media such as DVD, Bluray disk, books printed with paper and CD-ROMs in publishing will diminish. The mobile device will become like a personal library for your unique collection of ebooks, photos, music and videos.

The connection between mobile devices and NAS will allow consumers to have better control over their personal collections. Consumers will warehouse their media files on a home based NAS server. NAS will connect to HTPC which in turn connects to HDTV based media center. NAS will also be accessible anywhere on the internet. Discrete media files can be copied from NAS to mobile device for offline use like in a car, school or office setting.

As a result, growth in periferals for use with mobile devices like wireless Bluetooth speakers will increase because sound generated from mobile device needs to be amplified in order to listen without headphones or to share with a group.

Millions will lose their wallets. Digital money will transform everyone’s life. Smartphones and tablets can enable digital payments and loyatly programs. I cannot say who will be winner at this point but Bitcoin is an example of a scalable, decentralized systems that uses existing public and private key cryptography technologies. At the same time. Apple has more credit cards on file than any other company on Earth, courtesy of iTunes, and for years it’s been filing all sorts of patent applications for a digital wallet service called iMoney. I think there’s a 50-50 chance the new service will launch this year, either with iWatch or iPhone 6. Even if Apple does not win this race, the basic features of mobile devices can be used to implement digital payments using Wifi, Wifi Direct, Near field communications (NFC) and Bluetooth, dynamic generation and display of QR codes, biometric security features using front-facing camera for instant face recognition, and voice recognition using built-in microphone.

No matter how you look at it, making predictions is risky business. It’s almost as silly as shooting darts at Jell-O – hitting the target is downright impossible.

What are your predictions for this year? Please share your comments and feedback.

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